All three rings on display in Albany circus

After weeks -- months! -- of budget dithering and blathering, and despite the looming threat of a massive statewide government shutdown, the three-ring budget circus in Albany continues.

Supposedly, the Senate and Assembly agreed on a budget over the weekend -- and in a devious bit of political skullduggery, they plan to offer it as an amended version of the governor's own plan, which both houses bitterly oppose. This means Paterson can't veto it outright.

The bill needs to be voted on today to avoid a shutdown. And last the Albany Times-Union checked, the Senate Democrats, who need to vote in a unanimous bloc to pass the thing, are showing a few cracks in the facade. Capital Tonight tweets they may take out a bit that would allow married gay couples to file joint tax returns, in the hopes of pacifying Senator Ruben Diaz, who seems to enjoy zigging when the rest of his party opts to zag.

The Albany journobloggers are hitting this story fast and furious -- if you want to stay up to date on the drama, here are a few good channels.

-The Times-Union's excellent Capitol Confidential blog (which also appears in our "From the Capital" blogroll, to the right hand side of this page)

-The New York Daily News's Daily Politics, penned mainly by the indefatigable Celeste Katz.

-Live video feed of the New York Senate, prone lately to long stretches of crashing dullness interrupted by massive bedlam.

-A few Twitterers to watch: TV news program @CapitalTonight, their reporter @kaitlynross1, Senate policy advisor @mkink, WNYC reporter @azipaybarah.